21 July 2011

Things that POP

Well, the day after this beautiful lady has had her perfect child, I am finally posting about the baby shower that we had for her a few weeks ago. The theme was, Things That Pop, and we decorated with all the things that we could think of that POP!  Alice, Holly, Chloe and I spent all day popping pop corn, making lollypop bouquets and Popsicles and the like. It was so much fun to celebrate with Mindy.  

And, yesterday I got to be there when Mindy POPPED and brought her sweet baby boy into the world. It was incredible and amazing, and I was so blessed to have been there!  Welcome to the world, little man!

18 July 2011

Claudia's Choices Laundry Powder Review

One of my magnificent sponsors this month is a wonderful, environmentally friendly online store from right here in Alberta: Claudia's Choices.  Based out of Nanton, Claudia began searching for more responsible, eco-friendly ways to raise a family after her first daughter was born.  What began as an honest search for a better choice has become a successful resource for Canadian parents searching for the same.  Claudia offers cloth diapers and accessories, eco-friendly laundry and cleaning products, and lots of other organic and eco-friendly products for around the home. 

Claudia brought me a sample of her very own laundry detergent, Claudia's Choices Ultra Phosphate Free Laundry PowderTM .  I have to admit, I was a little hesitant to even try it, because I really wanted to have a good experience with it, but my expectations were low - not because of the product, but because for the past year and a bit since I've been living and cloth diapering back in Alberta, I have had major. stink. issues!  Seriously. The front load washer combined with the extremely hard water here in Calgary has led to a never ending battle between me and diaper stink.  There have been nights where I have woken up in the wee hours of the morning and had to change Silas just because he stunk so badly, not because he was too wet.  It seemed that the second he peed at all in his diaper, my son immediately smelled like a dirty bunny cage (and yes, I do know exactly what a dirty bunny cage smells like - trust me, it's gross - not what you want your one year old smelling like.)  I tried everything: more soap, less soap, more water, extra rinse cycles, extra wash cycles, sunning, stripping, boiling, and on and on and on...  Still, I had a serious stink problem. I've also had rash problems for the past few months. It felt like if I ever left a wet diaper on him for any amount of time he would have a red, sore, bum.  I figured I had yeast in the diapers that wasn't coming out in the wash, but I just couldn't change that no matter what I did.

Three weeks ago I started washing my diapers with Claudia's Choices Ultra Phosphate Free Laundry PowderTM .  I had just gotten back from Victoria, so I didn't have time to spend doing anything special: I just washed and wore. The first few cycles I didn't notice much of a difference.  Maybe it was a little better, but there was still stink.  But then, something magical happened: on the third wash cycle using Claudia's Choices Ultra Phosphate Free Laundry PowderTM I pulled my diapers out of the wash and I smelled something beautiful: clean diapers!  I don't think I could have told you before that they smelled dirty coming out of the wash, but smelling them *clean* was such a difference that I honestly wanted to cry.  If you had seen me bent over in front of my washer you would have imagined me in one of those laundry commercials on TV of someone dreamily smelling their freshly cleaned towels or sheets, except I was nose deep in diapers.  It was dreamy!  And, every wash since has been the same.  Not only that, but Silas has not had a red bum since I started using  Claudia's Choices Ultra Phosphate Free Laundry PowderTM.  I'm convinced that the soap has gotten rid of the yeast problem as well.  That makes all our lives a little better.

If you are interested in my wash routine, here it is: I pull apart my dirty pocket diapers and throw them in a dry bag until wash day. I try to wash every other day, but often only get to it every third day (and sometimes fourth.)  When I wash I just turn the dry bag inside out into the washer and close the washer door.  I do a cold wash cycle without any soap, and then a heavy duty wash cycle, on hot, with a prewash and extra rinse.  Because of Calgary's hard water I find I need to use a little extra detergent - usually a whole scoop for the wash cycle and a half scoop for the prewash.  Then, only if I have time, I run a final rinse, but I have found that with Claudia's Choices Ultra Phosphate Free Laundry PowderTM that hasn't been necessary.  So many people tell me that they could never cloth diaper because of the extra laundry, but honestly, it is so easy, just a few extra loads a week.  When you are already doing as much laundry as you have to with a family, I hardly even notice.  And, knowing I'm doing something good for my boy's bums and the environment makes it worth it. 

Right from Claudia's Choices website, here's her description of the product:

Claudia's Choices Ultra Phosphate Free Laundry PowderTM  is a concentrated laundry powder formulated to provide you with an envirosponsible wash without the use of phosphates, dyes, bleach, sodium chloride, sodium sulphate or optical brightener while maintaining superior cleaning performance.

It rinses out completely and is hypoallergenic because it has no fillers, perfumes or stainguard chemicals. This product is effective & safe for all your laundry needs, including cloth diapers, yet is gentle on baby’s skin.

If you own an energy efficient High Efficiency / Horizontal Axis washing machine, no problem. Our detergent is H/E rated (low sudsing). Claudia’s Choices Ultra Phosphate Free Laundry PowderTM dissolves completely – even if you have hard water or prefer cold water washing.

Ingredients: Silicates and carbonate, surfactant, enhanced with water conditioners and plant-based anti-soil redeposition agents.

Claudia's Choices Ultra Phosphate Free Laundry Powder is prepared exclusively for Claudia's Choices.

Septic Tank Safe, NO animal testing, NO animal bi-products. Made in Canada.

There you have it. How can I say more.  Of course you know I love supporting local companies, especially socially and environmentally responsible ones.  All you cloth diapering mommas out there, check out Claudia and her fantastic shop. You can check her out on Facebook as well, if you want to keep up to date.

16 July 2011

These are a few of our favourite things...

Well, the adventure is over.  Nothing like a whirlwind move across the country to a place you may never go back to.  We did it all.  Well, at least we did all we could afford.  It was wonderful, and amazing, and we will always love our memories of Victoria.  As I think of all the things we did and learned, there are many things I want to always remember, and the boys have some things, too.  Oh Victoria, we love you!

Mama loves:

Juniper Walls.  Juniper bushes in Calgary are just that, small little bushes barely a foot high. Well, in Victoria Juniper doesn’t know it’s a bush, it is a WALL!

The sea. I love the sea. I love everything about the sea.

Crazy Monkey Trees.  Kay, they are not really called that, but it's something like that, and I like them. Half cactus, half evergreen, all love.
Crosswalkers.  Random cross walks at random times have grown-up cross walkers making sure people of all walks of life (my point is it is not just school children these walkers are out there for) make it across the street safely.  I love it!

Knitting on the beach.

Silas loves:

Throwing stuff in the ocean. Anything, really. Sticks, stones, sand, seaweed (Apparently Silas's love has been brought to you by the letter "S").

Daddy loves:

Anenomes, even when they are deflated and snotty.

Co-sleeping star fish


Eli loves:

The goats biting me.

All the beaches. I love our secret beach. 

I love the swings and the parks.

I love all the pirate adventure ships and pirate stuff.

I love caterpillars too.

And with that my Victoria posts are over and I can make my scrapbook to remember it by.  Goodbye Victoria, hopefully our paths will cross again some day...

15 July 2011

Our Digs

Living in Victoria was our seventh home since we've been married.  It was definitely the smallest place we've ever lived in, but certainly not the worst!  When we went there we looked for something furnished and cheap.  Anything cheap in Victoria has to be very small, and that's exactly what we found.

The entrance to our castle:

 Our kitchen, which was too small to even open the cupboards with more than one person in there:

 Looking back toward the door:

Here's looking from the kitchen into our "bedroom/family room"; notice the tiny table with only two chairs:

 Here's a 360 degree tour or our room!  The couch, which was barely big enough for Eli to lie across it:

 Our queen size bed that we all ended up sleeping on together every night:

The closet and TV, on the one dresser:

Here's the window, which was actually pretty cool because the walls were two feet thick, so the window sill made a great climbing spot and shelf:

And our bathroom, which wasn't bad at all, and actually pretty cute:

There you have it. Awesome, eh?  What did we learn from it?  That we can live in 450 square feet, but that we never want to again.  And, that we no longer fit in a queen sized bed.  And, that we can easily live without all the junk that we have.  We went to Value Village for toys, spent $10, and were just as happy as we are with all the hundreds of dollars of toys we have at home.  Although, with a beach two blocks away, I'll admit that's a little easier. We'd do it all over again, if that's worth anything.

14 July 2011


Okay, for a month you've been seeing pictures of my kids with some rad white-trash mohawks.  I never did post about the mohawk process, which was pretty awesome.  My boys are dang cute! And, hopefully, one day in the future when they think about doing something silly like a mohawk, they will just think about how cool mom thinks it is, and decide it probably isn't that awesome!

13 July 2011

A Great Big Western Wednesday

Today we went to the Calgary Stampede: The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth!  We showed up at 8:45 am, and didn't leave until 5:30 pm.  My feet are sore, but the boys are asleep and we all had tons of fun.  Who doesn't love a crappy pancake breakfast, torrential rain fall, Icecapades to Metallica, and SUPER DOGS!!!  And that's not even mentioning the Live My Little Pony show.  We didn't take many pictures, but I wore cowboy boots all day and felt like a real cowgirl.  Check out our Stampede visit last year, and if you wanted to know exactly what The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth is, go read my history of the Stampede here.

Botanical Beach

Okay, before our adventures in Victoria there was very little that I knew about Vancouver Island, but I had heard of Botanical Beach.  So, despite it being 2 hours away, we decided to load up and spend a day exploring the tide pools there, which were supposed to be amazing!

I'll be honest, it wasn't as cool as I had hoped. Maybe the tides were not in our favour, but I thought we had seen just as many cool things at other beaches closer to home.  Still, it's always fun to spend a day out in nature with my boys.  We picnicked on the beach, hung out with all the retirees that were there, and Eli found enough crabs to entertain him for a lifetime.  

Okay, I'll admit, this crab was pretty cool.  Bigger and prettier than any other we'd seen. 

Remember the gross snotty anemones on our sea star beach?   This is what they look like under water.

Eli is always so interested.  It makes everything so much more exciting. 

Hermit crabs!

Family picture!  We don't get enough of these. 

Silas exploring, too.

Okay, he was way more interested in lifting this log than in the crabs. 

And, on the way home, we saw not one, but TWO black bears!!!  You don't see that every day, no you don't!

Okay, maybe I am wrong. Maybe Botanical Beach was super cool and I was just really tired that day.  From the pictures it looks like it was pretty awesome. I guess I'll have to go back one day to decide.  Maybe.

12 July 2011

A Visit to Paradise

Not everyone was as lucky as I was to have a place to call home every summer doing something I absolutely loved!  I was able to work (can you call it work when you are doing everything you ever dreamed of doing?) on a farm in Bragg Creek, Alberta, helping with a riding school and farm camp.  Honestly, I loved every minute of it. I still call Flying Goose Farm home!  Carmen Pearson, who ran The Goose, for as long as I remember has been a teacher, mentor, boss, mother and friend.  A few years ago Carmen and her family moved from the beautiful Foothills of Alberta to the incredible Gulf Island of Mayne, in the Strait of Georgia.  So, while in Victoria, I just had to take the trip to visit her on her little bit of paradise!

We stayed at the resort Carmen now owns, Blue Vista Resort. Honestly, if you've ever wanted to visit the Gulf Islands, go to Mayne and stay at Blue Vista. It was charming, beautiful, and I fell totally in love!

We stopped at the Mayne Island Farmers Market, where Eli bought a real quill and ink to write with and I bought a delicious raspberry pie for dinner at the Pearson's. I love small town farmer's markets more than anything!

Once we met up with Carmen, she took us straight to the beach to shuck oysters for dinner.  Guess what? I didn't eat them, but it was fun to "harvest" them.  Apparently there is something about the ocean streams, or the tides, or something, that makes the oysters and clams on the beaches of Mayne edible and not chalk full of toxins.  We also learned that when you harvest the oysters you have to throw the shells back to the beach, because the baby oysters live on the backs of the big ones, so to keep the population up, you just throw back the shells.  There is also something about the ocean streams that make the Mayne climate much more mild than other places. We watched the rain pour in Vancouver while the sun was shinning on Mayne. It was beautiful. 


Eli thought the beach was pretty cool.  We found the only sea star that wasn't firmly stuck to a boulder.  Eli wanted to take it home as a pet, but we convinced him to leave it there with his family.

This crab also almost came home with us. 

Andrew, Carmen's husband, and one of my favourite British men in the whole world because as long as I can remember he has always called me "Love,"  took us for a ride in his boat to see the Sea Lions on an island just off Mayne.

We sat and watched them bark at each other for half an hour, fighting for a place on that rock, disappearing in the rising tide. It was pretty cool.

It was so nice to just explore the island. The 21 square km didn't take long at all to cover, but we enjoyed every bit of it.  Carmen told us all about the sordid past of the island, from the rum runs during American Prohibition (Carmen's house sits on "Smugglers Cove" where the rum runners would beach when runnig from the US authorities), to the deportation of the Japanese settlers during WWII.  She also told us about all the islands around, many of which were privately owned by people much more wealthy than me!  Oh to own an island just to throw some peacocks and goats on it.  In another life...  The greatest part though was being able to enjoy the company of dear old friends!

Carmen's kids, who I watched grow up on the farm, were both there for the summer. I can't believe how grown up and wonderful they both are!  Love them. 

Kay, this could have possibly been my favourite thing on Mayne Island: Car Stops. They were all over the island, places where you could stand to hitch hike to wherever you needed to be.  No place was very far, but if you didn't want to walk, you could just catch a ride with whomever came along.  Awesome.
Honestly, pack up right now and go.  If you are going to fly, fly into Victoria though, because the ferries are cheaper to and from there (and maybe you'll be as lucky as we were and see killer whales from the ferry as you travel!).  However you get there, you will love it, I promise!

Here's a video I made years ago with all my pictures from Flying Goose Farm.  There are a few of you out there who will appreciate the memories!

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